Prince George's County Executive Lawrence giving the County Council sole power to award the multimillion-dollar cable television franchise for the county. The all-Democratic Council promplty overrode the Republican executive's veto.
The veto latest episode in the continuing political battle over award of the lucrative franchise, was the first Hogan has cast since becoming executive 16 months ago.
In his veto message, sent to the council late in the day, Hogan called the legislation a form of "political knavery" that would "open the decisions regarding cable franchises to additional political controversy and possible manipulation."
The council's response was a 9-to-1 override vote, with council members criticizing Hogan in the same terms he criticized them, accusing him of playing politics.
Council member William B. Amonett called the veto "foolish and not in the best interests of the county" and defended the legislation -- of which he is a sponsor -- as "far from being politically motivated."
The legislation confirmed by the council's veto overrude effectively removes all decision making power from a committee Hogan appointed last year.
Council members apparently feared that the committee would be biased in favor of cable firms represented by Hogan's friends and against those represented by persons with close political ties to the council.
Among the various contenders for the Prince George's franchise are former Democratic County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., a longtime friend of council members, and several Democratic state legislators as well as initimates of Hogan.
More than 25 cable television firms have expressed interest in the franchise in Prince George's where it is estimated profits will total as much as $7 million a year. A cable system would serve more than 200,000 county households and a franchise is expected to be awarded in the spring of 1981.
Hogan has repeatedly denied he has any influence over the comission or that he would try to influence it in favor of one firm or another. He has accused the council of designing the measure he voted to aid the cable company for which Kelly works. Hogan calls the legislation the "Winnie Kelly bill."
Council members yesterday challenged Hogan's assertions that they were trying to benefit Kelly and took their own swipes at Hogan.
"by vetoing this legislation, I can only surmise that the county executive did indeed intend to withhold information from the County Council, said Amonett. "to try to withhold information is absolutely wrong, and the county executive is way out of line."
There was considerable speculation yesterday about when hogan would send his veto to the council. By law it had to be delivered yesterday, 10 days after the council passed the legislation.
If the council finished its regular weekly meeting yesterday and left the County Office Building in Upper Marlboro before the veto arrived, it could not consider an override until next Tuesday's regular meeting. Since that would be the last chance for an override vote and several council members plan to be away next week, the council might have fallen short of the eight votes necessary for an override had the vote been postponed beyond yesterday.
Following threats to Hogan that the council would not leave the county building until midnight, the executive delivered the veto shortly after 5 p.m.
Hogan's decision to veto the cable bill and the council vote to override is the most recent sign that the already-strained relations between Hogan and the council have begun to deteriorate.
In the last month, the council has criticized Hogan's handling of recent labor troubles in the county, his proposed 1981 budget, which several council members said overlooks the county's poorer residents, and has refused on two separate occasions to consider his nominee for the county planning board.
Yesterday in addition to overriding Hogan's veto on the cable bill, the council also voted to override Hogan's veto of a second bill. That legislation requires Hogan to get council approval before he leases any county property. Hogan vetoed it.